Review of the SLR Magic Hyperprime CINE 10mm T2.1 Lens / by Benjamin Lebeau

SLR Magic asked me to test out their new Hyperprime CINE 10mm T2.1 for Micro Four Thirds and their variable ND filter. I happily obliged. 

My Wes Anderson shot that didn't make it into the video. I tilted straight down to street level. (Check out the end of the post for the other half.)

My Wes Anderson shot that didn't make it into the video. I tilted straight down to street level. (Check out the end of the post for the other half.)

I've always loved super wide lenses. It's where cinema can be most like photography, and it presents unique challenges for composition and exposure control. Nowadays there are a lot of cinematographers than have no real skillsets except for cranking their 35mm lens to f1.8 so that we can see the 12 bride-to-be eyelashes that we never wanted to see. With a 10mm lens you just can't do that.

Of course, this isn't really the kind of lens that you'd want to use for portraits or extreme close-ups. Though for the sake of this review, here are a couple:

Also with the 77mm Variable ND Filter @ 1.8.

Also with the 77mm Variable ND Filter @ 1.8.

Nobody likes clowns.

Nobody likes clowns.

Like all the SLR Magic lenses, this has extremely precise focus control. And maybe it's that I'm mostly experienced with less expensive lenses, but the focus ring reminds me of a macro lens once you get within a foot. It should also be noted that for nearby subjects you have to be very, very close to create a shallow DOF shot. Not remotely surprising, but I just want to make clear: this is a wide angle lens, best suited for wide shots.

Distortion was the number one thing I looked out for, and I was pleasantly surprised that it's very subtle, even in pan and tilt shots. It’s only visible on the corners, and on wide shots it’s practically imperceptible unless you’re defocused. Some people might shrug this off because you're getting 24mm and 20mm in equivalence, but people forget that the true *perspective* doesn't change, only the crop. If you took almost any other lens under $800 this wide and stuck it on your camera, you'd have some ugly fisheye. So props to SLR Magic for that.

The lens is overall pretty sharp, with a little bit of softness (particularly on the edges) when wide open. I exaggerated this effect in the night shot below. It's intentionally defocused just below infinity, and you’ll notice a more bokeh on the right edge than in the center. If you don’t want any softness, you’ll need to stop down to around T4-5.6, which is what I shot for all of the daytime shots in the video. All of the night shots were at T2.1.

If you plan on doing any shooting during the day, the 77mm SLR Magic Variable ND filter is essential. I've seen some people complain about vignetting or "cross effect" on variable NDs, but I found no such issues. A couple of the sun shots used the maximum setting, just to prove that point.

77mm Variable ND at the maximum setting.

77mm Variable ND at the maximum setting.

The night shots were a bit of a challenge, as the Blackmagic isn't a low light camera. However, I found the lens was *just* fast enough to capture low light sources accurately, so it's definitely possible to get some low noise environmental shots. (Though I did use some noise reduction in DaVinci for good measure.)

If you're in the market for a strong wide lens to combat your MFT crop, this is an excellent option.

Wes Anderson would either be proud, sorely disappointed, or he wouldn't give two shits.

Wes Anderson would either be proud, sorely disappointed, or he wouldn't give two shits.

Most of the footage was shot along the PCH and at the Santa Monica Pier. Shot on the Blackmagic 2.5K in raw. Graded in DaVinci Resolve 11.1 and edited in Premiere with a tiny bit of After Effects work. Thanks for reading.